All White Paints Are Not Created Equal

All White Paints Are Not Created Equal


Five local interior designers share which white paints they favor.

Painting contractor Catherine Baldi of Arana Craftsman Painters has lots of conversations with homeowners and interior designers about color. Lately, she has seen an uptick in interior designers spec-ing more whites for their clients.

“White works well as a background, a neutral classic that highlights the art and furniture when used in interiors,” Baldi said. “Personally, I love color. And yet, I have to say, choosing white — whereas this used to be a ‘boring’ default color — now, we find it often elevates a space.”

Benjamin Moore has named its Simply White as Color of the Year previously, which potentially influenced the growing trend. Regardless, here’s the lowdown from some local designers about their favorite whites for interiors and advice for homeowners who might be selecting this color that is not a color but is.


Designer: Mead Quin, Mead Quin Design, Emeryville,

Color: All White by Farrow and Ball and Simply White by Benjamin Moore

Quin noted that white is often an ideal choice for her clients who collect art. “In this circumstance, it is important to find a neutral shade, not too cool or too warm, so that the white walls support the art rather than detract from it, and also supports the home feeling like a welcoming space rather than an art gallery,” she said.


Designer: Quinn Morgan, Quinn Morgan Design, San Francisco,

Color: Benjamin Moore’s Capitol White, Simply White, and Heron White

“White welcomes the light as it moves through the space. White is such a complementary backdrop to the furnishings and objects; it really showcases the pieces in front of it,” Morgan said. Morgan’s advice for homeowners choosing whites is to paint a large sample on a board, at least 18 inches by 24 inches, and walk it around the rooms at different times of day. “It would be impossible to say one white works everywhere. Light, reflections, indoor-to-outdoor relationship — all of these influence color rendering in every space, differently.”


Designer: Dawn Carlson, MAS Design, Tiburon,

Color: Sherwin Williams’ Incredible White

“Sherwin Williams’ Incredible White — the perfect name! — has a whisper of gray in it. Sherwin Williams is not a ‘designer’ paint brand, and so, price-wise, it is accessible; and best of all, this white tends to work in almost every light. This white always has a crisp, clean appearance and depth. You can do a whole house in it and the look of it will shift from room to room, with just enough variation that it creates subtle interest while also providing cohesion.”


Designer: Laura Martin Bovard, LMB Interiors, Oakland,

Color: Benjamin Moore’s White Dove and Feather Down

“Benjamin Moore’s White Dove is our absolute favorite go-to white. It’s warm, clean, and pairs well in modern, traditional, and transitional interiors. That said, sometimes people like an even warmer white, in which case we specify Feather Down. Layering whites can be a really breathy, beautiful, cloudlike way of creating richness and depth, especially if you want to do an all-white house. The austerity of a modern place asks for an all-white palette. There is one other architectural genre where all white is traditionally acceptable — and expected — and that would be a Spanish Mediterranean, which is often all white with a darker accent color on the trim.”


Designer: Carolyn Rebuffel, Workroom C, Emeryville,

Paint: Benjamin Moore’s Super White, Linen White, White Dove, and Decorator’s White

“My top four faves and why: Super White — when there is tons of light. Linen White — super-complementary in traditional settings and works well with antiques. White Dove — softer than Super White and friendly to other colors. And Decorator’s White — works almost all of the time, in all different lighting conditions. Recently, I moved into a new house, and I realized that this is the third time that I’ve moved into a house and painted the whole entire interior white. For me, personally, white gives me the perfect jumping off point for pattern play. My first two homes were very traditional, one built in 1912 and the other a Spanish Mediterranean. In both, Linen White worked all the way through. The house I just moved into is darker, so I’m using White Dove, which brightens it up.”